The nice thing about getting closer and closer to the season is that more and more stories crop up to choose from. Might we see these Power Rankings expand? Who knows? (I do. I write them. I know.) We have five all new stories this week that you should be paying closer attention to. In the words of the immortal Adam Yauch, check ch-check check check ch-check it out.
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Matt Miazga, after so much speculation that Guus Hiddink basically started talking about his plans for Miazga before his signature had even materialized on a contract, signed with Chelsea. That's a big step up for the twenty-year-old (all apologies to the New York Red Bulls crew). Hiddink has said that Miazga will end up being a "squad player," and won't be loaned out before the season is up. So essentially, Miazga will need to step into a Chelsea side in midseason form and fitness, who despite their current lowly place on the table still boast the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar, Pedro, and everyone's favorite towel boy Cesc Fabregas. All he has to do is step into first team training cold after a couple months of no soccer and impress enough to fight for a spot on the team. Sounds like fun.
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Speaking of Miazga, he wasn't the only MLSer we unexpectedly waved farewell to this week. Sporting KC revelation and MLS Goal of the Year champ Krisztian Nemeth was sold to Qatari side Al-Gharafa for some sweet, sweet oil money. Meanwhile, Erik Palmer-Brown was loaned out to Portuguese titans FC Porto. The teenager had long been linked to Juventus, but now he'll be in Portugal for the foreseeable future. Palmer-Brown was once America's most highly thought-of center back prospect, but after signing a pro contract at the age of seventeen with Sporting KC, he found playing time a bit harder to come by, and new exciting names like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga began dominating the defensive youth ranks. Add these two to Miazga, Portland left-sided duo Jorge Villafana and Rodney Wallace, Omar Gonzalez, and others; there's been some serious talent that's left the league this offseason. Of course, that begs one simple question: who steps up next? Miazga was a relatively unheralded USYNT also-ran a couple years ago. Nemeth arrived in Kansas City free of charge. Jorge Villafana got to Portland because they wanted Steve Zakuani and up until a couple years ago everyone thought Rodney Wallace was a defender. MLS is a league of opportunity. Time to see who grabs it next.
3. Jermaine Jones and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Game
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Jermain Jones, Patron Saint of Rash Challenges, Instagram Fashion, and current Keeper of the USMNT Dreadlocks (RIP Cobi, wherever it is in LA you are right now), had himself a bad game. No, not the Iceland game. He was pretty decent. I'm talking about that one waaaay back at the end of the Revs season. The one where he got suspended for six games for threatening/assaulting/boo-yah chest bashing a ref? Yeah, that one. It appears Jermaine has offers back in Germany that are more to his liking than the contract offer the Revs extended to him. The only problem is, his six game ban from MLS would still be in effect wherever he goes, according to FIFA statutes. That all puts Jermaine in a tough spot. Any team wanting to sign the 34-year-old will want him immediately, presumably, and won't want to wait a month and a half to actually get him on the field. What's more, the international transfer deadline has come and gone, with Jermaine still out of contract. Where he ends up is anyone's guess, but the fact that he's put himself in this mess is inescapable. Head over to his IG feed and light a few prayer candles for him.
4. de Jong Joins; Attackers Weep
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Movement: Karate Kick
*(Just kidding I love you Stu :( :( )
5. Leaner, Meaner Jozy
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As was previously noted, the US played Iceland to a 3-2 victory, coming from behind twice to grab a glorious B-team friendly win. Jozy Altidore scored in that game, and many people are buzzing about the Haitian SensationTM and his attitude coming out of this game. Josmer Volmy Altidore has always been a streaky confidence player. Some days he had it, and some days (months, entire seasons, etc) he didn't. This camp seems different, however. In an effort to stay more physically healthy and avoid injury, Jozy lost ten pounds before the start of camp. He also flew to LA a week early to begin his own personal training regimen. He capped off those news stories by finishing a beautiful Michael Bradley pass with a composed chipped finish, on his weaker foot, no less. Basically, Jozy looks good, and even more importantly, he sounds more dedicated and loose than he has in a long while. If these things create a pattern, Toronto FC fans might just be very, very happy campers this season.